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Book Review: Havana Harvest by Robert Landori

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It’s very rare that I get a review book and know I am going to enjoy within the first 10 pages. Havana Harvest was one of the exceptions.

It’s so well written that you feel yourself thrown in from the first page. The characters are believable and formed well enough that it does not take several chapters to have them seem satisfyingly complete.

The novel takes place towards the end of the 80s and centers around Cuba. It seems a Cuban official has just ended up in Miami with a million dollars in his bag wanting asylum. As you can imagine the gist of the novel is exploring how this man came to find himself in Miami in such a panicky state.

The plot involves the CIA, Cuban intelligence, ex-Mossad agents, Hungarians, Canadians, Columbians and all kind of other nefarious types. It takes the reader from Castro-controlled Cuba, to Montreal, Switzerland and all sorts of points in between. The main character is filled with angst and regret, but retains a sense of humanity.

It reads like a good intrigue yarn, but avoids all the possible pratfalls. Despite this being a first-time novel, the author hasn’t created a long-winded, overly wordy affair. The writing is superb and it reads very quickly. Perfect for a flight from Miami to Zurich, for instance.

I can find no fault with the novel. Some might find the plot a tad predictable, but as it’s based partly on fact, that might not be apt. It retains that sense that it would make a good movie, if done right, without reading like a movie script.

I only hope that it will not take the author another 20 years to write his next novel. It’s been a very long time indeed since I have read a debut novel of such quality.

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